I haven't written for a while. Two reasons. Firstly, my inaugural cocktail party on Thursday which, as I expected, did leave me a bit worse for wear. Secondly, looking back at my blog I just realised how much I talk. Yes, yes, I know you are not surprised, and I'm not really, but at this rate this tome will be comparable to War and Peace. Not that I have read W&P .... and hasten to add that even though I have a bit of time on my hands at the moment I am not planning to. In fact, this is a moment in my life when I can openly admit to enjoying girlie fashion mags and chick lits without reproach.
Over the last couple of weeks I have had some lovely notes, calls, e-mails and comments and I have been extremely grateful for every one of them. Some have been funny, some have been thoughtful and kind, some have been gossipy ... and some ... well ... have just told me what is on the lunch menu ... but they have all been very much appreciated. If I haven't got back to you yet then please bear with me ...
Amongst the many messages lots of people have made comment on how strong and brave they think I am. I have spent a little time dwelling on this, as these remarks have bothered me somewhat, and I have decided to come clean and admit that I am certainly neither strong nor brave. In a Carrie-Bradshaw-type-manner I have checked the dictionary meaning of 'brave' and the definition appears as: possessing or displaying courage; able to face and deal with danger or fear without flinching. That implies that if I had a choice to go to war with this breast cancer thing then I would willingly do so. But the honest to God truth is that I wouldn't. If I could do a U-ie, right here and now, then I'd have my foot to the floor. But one of the most frustrating and depressing things about all this is I can't. For possibly the very first time in my life there are no alternatives other than to put my head down and soldier on.
There have been lots of tears you know. Shock-tears, sad-tears, depressed-tears, scared-tears, why-ruddy-me tears, will-I-make-it tears ... It doesn't help that I am an "emotional little soul" who cries at the best of times, and somewhat surprisngly, this is a trait (I refuse to call it a problem) that I think has heightened as I have got older. I didn't cry when Kylie and Jason got married, when England lost the World Cup (as if) nor when Princess Di died. Though I did, for example, when Rachel was tragically killed ...
It was Saturday afernoon a few months ago. Weekly chores done and the house was unusually quiet for an hour or two. I decided to grab a blanket and get comfy on the sofa with a nice cup of tea and a Finger of Fudge (who are they kidding ... whose diddy finger exactly?) and watch Cold Feet. It was a programme that I would avidly watch on a Sunday night - until they moved it to a later slot and I kept falling asleep. (In case you missed it, it was a kind-of English version of Friends.) So I settled down and decided to catch up with my DVD box set. Everyone knows that Adam's wife, the nice one, Rachel, died in a car accident. I was primed for that bit. However, when that truck hit her car ... and she was taken to hospital ... and when the gang all gathered round ... and then she passed away ... What I wasn't quite so prepared for was me crying unashamedly, well you could say hysterically sobbing, under the blanket as if one of my best friends had died. Well, as I said, she was the nice one.
Thursday was chemo day. There were lots of tears on that day too. Tears all the way to the hospital. Tears in the waiting room. The staff were so lovely. They even made me a nice cup of strong tea, proper Typhoo, in a china cup. I looked such a sorry state.
Calming down a little after the cuppa and before going in for my treatment I looked around the waiting area to see how everyone else was fairing. And ... I hate to admit that everyone else... young and old ... appeared to be reasonably calm and assured. There was an old chap, in his 70s or 80s, sitting in a wheelchair and attached to a drip. He was reading a Tory tabloid which had a double-page spread on the 70th anniversary of the commencement of the Second World War. There were grainy pictures of troops and land girls, possibly some of whom were amongst the 50 million people who died during the years of that conflict. There were also pictures of Hitler, and of Churchill, standing defiantly with his two finger salute.
I wondered how old the man the was and whether he had been alive during the war. I guessed that if he had then he might have been a similar age to the little boy who was being bounced vigorously on the knee of his father, who was sitting to the right of me. The boy was about two and his parents were putting on an impressive entertainment show to keep amused and stop him running around. His father was singing nursery rhymes with exaggerated enthusiasm and gusto to keep his attention. "The Grand Old Duke of York, he had ten thousand men, he marched them to the top of the hill and he marched them down again ...."
I was starting to flag again and then my mobile beeped to say I had received a message. Earlier I had sent a text to a friend to say I was on the way over to the hospital and this was possibly the worst day of my life. He had sent a text back. His response said: "We may not be there in person, but in spirit all of your friends are gathered around you now. Grit your teeth and imagine these drugs as soldiers going into battle for you." Of course I started to blab again .....
Now, nearly a week later, I don't feel too bad. I've have suffered some of things that you generally associate with chemotherapy, such as nausea and extreme tiredness and lethargy. I have also endured a few side effects that you probably aren't aware of, and I won't bore you with all of those. However, I will tell you that over the last few days I have had to face the stark reality that this is very much the beginning of what is a very long and grueling journey. And, if you sit and think about this no-choice process, which involves a medley of strong medications being pumped into your body indescriminantly killing good and bad, for too long then it can really freak you out. So what does a girl who really isn't that strong and brave to do?
Well it is simple. When I get a bit low and start to worry about those soldiers inside and their friendly-fire, I grab that blanket and snuggle up on the sofa with a box of tissues and a chick lit bonkbuster. I pop on a film - no - not some famous epic which involves wars, battles and combat - but a sugary sweet one with a soppy banoffee pie ending. And of course, to top it off, I grab a lovely strong cup of tea in one hand and a Finger of Fudge in the other.
Actually, these days I go with Churchill on that ... and make it two fingers.